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Posted on: June 9, 2020

Joint Statement from Countywide Law Enforcement Leadership on the Death of George Floyd

In the wake of the shocking death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers on May 25, people across our nation have been demanding equal justice for everyone and an end to excessive force and disparate treatment by police.  All of Montgomery County’s law enforcement leaders—seven of us—were stunned and anguished at the actions of the Minneapolis officers, and we collaborated to write the below letter to all residents of Montgomery County to express our outrage with the actions leading to Mr. Floyd’s death, to denounce all types of police misconduct, and to state our commitment to serving our communities with fairness, respect and justice for all.  

We, the leaders of the law enforcement community of Montgomery County, are angry and outraged over the killing of George Floyd by police officers in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Their actions in Mr. Floyd’s tragic, senseless death is an abject failure of policing.  While each of us has issued a statement to our respective communities, we felt compelled to speak to the people of Montgomery County at large with one, unified voice.

We unequivocally condemn the actions of the Minneapolis police officers. Here in Montgomery county, we are aware of the historical relationship and distrust that has existed between the police and many minority residents—especially within the black community.  This must change. Each of us has shared our disgust and outrage over Mr. Floyd’s death within our organizations and have communicated that disparate treatment in any form is unacceptable, it will not be tolerated, and actions based on bias of any kind will receive swift disciplinary action. There is no place for racism in our profession. This is not a high standard; this is the right standard.

When police work is performed correctly—fairly, respectfully, with kindness, empathy, restraint and discretion—it demonstrates the selfless commitment to the service of others that is our shared philosophy and the fundamental purpose of policing.  Collectively, we engage in tens of thousands of contacts every year with members of our communities.  Our officers do an outstanding job in the vast majority of those contacts as evidenced by our resident satisfaction surveys, however, whenever we fail to perform as we should, it reflects poorly on our agencies and our profession, and it risks damaging the trust of our communities which is essential to our ability to function and to be viewed as legitimate.   

We are constantly challenged each day to serve the residents of a growing and diverse county.  Building and maintaining the public trust is an ongoing task that we work on daily. Every negative interaction hampers our ability to earn that trust.  We are aware that law enforcement everywhere is under great scrutiny and calls for transparency and greater accountability are voiced by many residents in our community. We realize that we must work toward greater transparency and accountability in order to hold the public trust. 

To that end, we hereby commit to the following:

  • We will work to continually improve training in cultural competency for our officers to enable them to more effectively and positively engage an ever-changing diverse community.
  • We will remind every member of our teams of their individual and collective responsibility to treat all persons fairly, respectfully, with kindness, empathy, restraint and discretion.  This is what we expect of our officers, and this is what our communities expect and deserve.
  • We will increase our efforts to recruit and hire women and men that reflect the communities we serve and to hire the right people for this critically important work.
  • We will hold officers and employees accountable for misconduct so that the public trust built from the good work of the vast majority of our dedicated workforce will not be diminished by the misdeeds of the few.

We are listening to you and stand with you in this extremely difficult time. We are all in this together.        

Signed,

Marcus Jones, Chief                                                             Victor Brito, Chief
Montgomery County Police Department                            Rockville City Police Department

Mark Sroka, Chief                                                                 Antonio DeVaul, Chief
Gaithersburg Police Department                                        Takoma Park Police Department

Darrel McSwain, Chief                                                         John Fitzgerald, Chief
Montgomery County Park Police Department                  Chevy Chase Village Police Department

Darren Popkin, Montgomery County Sheriff

______________________________________________________________________________________

Transparency on an Important Topic:
Chevy Chase Village Police Department’s Use of Force Policy

The Village Police Department regularly reviews and revises its written policies.  Following the death of George Floyd, Chief Fitzgerald once again reviewed the Department’s use of force policy.  For several years now, our policy has included several best practices to include:

  • An overarching respect for the sanctity of life;
  • The duty to de-escalate;
  • The duty to intervene when other officers are engaging in misconduct/excessive force;
  • The duty to immediately render first aid; and
  • The duty to report the misconduct of others.

Although our policy was already sound, Chief Fitzgerald made some changes and re-issued it to the officers and to the training team.  In the days following tragedies such as the death of George Floyd, many police departments have fielded inquiries about their use of force policies.  You may read our use of force policy here:
https://www.chevychasevillagemd.gov/DocumentCenter/View/1169/5-05-Use-of-Force-PDF

You can find all of the Chevy Chase Village Police Department’s general orders posted on the ‘Police’ page of the Village website at the below link:
https://www.chevychasevillagemd.gov/330/Department-General-Orders



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